This is a question we hear often at the spa. Are moisturizers really that important? What ingredients should I be looking for? What if I have acne, oily skin or dry skin? The short answer is: Moisturizers are important for all skin types.
The skin makes up a huge part of our body and is exposed to the elements like sun, pollution, and weather. Dermatologists will tell you that taking care of it is important to not only your aging process but your overall health and well being. Whether you suffer from dry skin, oily skin or acne, all skin conditions are better cared for with moisturizing.
Why Do We Need a Moisturizer?
To be healthy, skin needs to maintain a certain level of water. For our skin to feel and look smooth and supple it ideally needs to be 30% water. Not only does it help the skin’s volume and appearance but it allows the skin to shed and regenerate smoothly. Without it, skin becomes dry and flaky and and can even become irritated and start to crack and hurt. At the most basic level, moisturizers help add and hold water or hydration in the skin and they work to create a protective layer or barrier to keep that hydration in and prevent water loss.
What Are Moisturizers Made Up Of?
While moisturizers can be formulated with special ingredients to target certain skin concerns, to effectively moisturize they need these three key building blocks:
- HUMECTANTS — "Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, are mostly low-molecular-weight substances that bind water into the stratum corneum," says Dr. King. "They need to be used along with they other components in order to retain the water content."
- EMOLILIENTS — Emollients are essential fatty acids found in things like jojoba and coconut oils that help with the skin barrier function and the overall improvement in skin texture and appearance. They also help to retain the water content in the skin.
OCCLUSIVES — "Occlusives are oils and waxes which form an inert layer on the skin and physically block transepidermal water loss," says Dr. King. "Examples include squalene, beeswax, lecithin, and zinc oxide."
Why are Moisturizers So Important?
For all skin types an underlying moisture imbalance may result in dry skin, redness, acne breakouts, or overreactive oil glands. Moisturizers primary function is to keep skin hydration balanced. But there are other reasons they are an important part of caring for your skin.
Moisturizing Keeps Skin Looking Younger
The skin on your face, neck, and chest are the most delicate and typically get the most exposure to the sun and elements, also making them more prone to damage, signs of aging and even cancer. These delicate areas also shed skin cells more rapidly and require more moisture. Keeping your skin moisturized can not only plump the skin to diminish signs of aging, but also protect it from inflammation and the type of exposures that cause aging.
Moisturizers Protect Your Skin
An essentially invisible, yet constant assault on our skin is the pollution in our air. Daily exposure can interrupt collagen production, cause inflammation and disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier. Moisturizer acts as a line of defense protecting your skin from the elements and fortifying it from accelerated aging. Moisturizers with broad-spectrum protection can also prevent premature lines and wrinkles caused by sun exposure. We recommend using sunscreen every day, especially when receiving treatments which may make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
When to Moisturize
Immediately after your shower or bath is the most crucial time to moisturize. Hot water strips the natural oils from your skin which can dry it out. Applying moisturizer in the few minutes just after you get out can help your skin return to a balanced state. It’s important to moisturize immediately after you shave and exfoliate as well.
What Should I Look for in a Moisturizer?
- Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin and other humectants that can bind hydration into the skin
- Vitamin C and E and other antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental damage
- Jojoba oil or other oils with fatty acids that can protect your skin barrier
- Squalane and ingredients that work to block water loss